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Have we seen where Christ is going?


Public Domain

The Ascension by-Salvador Dali, 1958

Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP - published on 05/20/20

All the cleaning and re-examining of the quarantine is for something. Do we know what?

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May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory…

I’ve noticed this quarantine that many of my brother priests have used their time to take on long overdue cleaning and building projects. Whether they’ve been emptying old closets or applying fresh paint to worn rooms, these priests have been Marthas, “busy about many things…”

Every parish, for that matter, has been preparing to “open up.” Every church has been sanitizing, hanging ropes, taping X’s, clarifying protocol. These efforts and more have been in the name of safely welcoming parishioners back. Parishes have been working to offer as much protection and reasonable precaution as possible.

What is this work for? What is it really all about?

Our common worship, our gathering together is the proclamation to the ends of the earth that Christ is Our Lord. He is the Risen One, the true Son of the Father, who has defeated death.

Further, the same Jesus Christ has ascended to heaven, where he now reigns in glory at God’s right hand.

We believe in these mysteries. We believe that this Jesus who has returned to the heavenly dwelling from whence he came has changed forever the horizon of our human existence. He gives our lives a new goal, a new end. He offers more than we could ever imagine.

I hope during this time that we have been reflecting on what is truly essential in our lives. I hope we have recognized the dignity and value of human life. That we have missed the worship which proclaims the most meaningful truths of our lives.

St. Paul prays for the Ephesians, “May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory.” This should be our prayer as we “open up.” 

What is all this business for? It is for God. It is for His glory. It is for the richness of his triumphant Son who now sits in heaven above.

The COVID-19 pandemic interrupted our days. It has affected everyone. Some have known great loss and suffering. Others may have felt more deeply the challenges of loneliness during these days of quarantine. Perhaps we ourselves have come to know some share of the abandonment felt by the disciples in those early days, especially before the Holy Spirit was sent.

And yet what we saw was still not the end. Each of us will die. The world itself will come to an end. These are basic facts of life, basic facts of the Christian faith.

And yet Christ will be there through it all. Time and time again people have testified to me, naming ways that they have seen Christ during this time. Our Lord was with us. Abiding in tabernacles, present in his body the Church, and dwelling in our souls.

What Christ offers is more than memory. His presence is not mere nostalgia nor is it a list of teachings to live by. He, Christ, is with us. Though memory fade and time continues its ponderous march, Christ remains.

No matter the threat, weakness, failure, division, wound, or sorrow, He will sustain. Christ alone offers victory. He alone offers true joy and lasting happiness. He alone can lead us to our heavenly home. When all is lost, when all is fallen, He alone will remain.

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